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Showcasing rice straw innovations for farmers in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta

To promote the mechanization of rice straw collection and rice straw handling and processing technologies, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Vietnam, in cooperation with Hau Giang province and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), organized a field demonstration on rice straw management towards circular and low emission agriculture. More than 500 participants, including rice farmers from the provinces of the Mekong River Delta (MRD), attended the field demonstration held in Vi Thuy district, Hau Giang province.

Various agricultural machinery companies and institutes participated in the event, like Giang Lan Company, Yanmar Vietnam, Tu Sang Company, Phan Tan Company, AiO Vietnam Company, Binh Dien Fertilizer, Green Farm Cooperative Can Tho City, and the Center for Research and Transfer of Science and Technology of Nong Lam University. They showcased a variety of technologies like rice straw balers for wet and dry fields and combine harvesters. They also demonstrated sustainable farming practices by presenting models of rice straw composting, mushroom production, organic farming using rice straw compost, bio bedding for livestock and cattle feed, and production of rice straw pots as a bioplastic alternative.

In his welcome message, MARD Vice Minister Tran Thanh Nam shared that different solutions to the issues of rice straw management will be introduced in the field demonstration event. He stressed that collecting and processing agricultural residues such as rice straw will add value to the rice value chain, contributing to income generation and livelihood improvement.

Vice Minister Nam also highlighted that creating added value from rice straw, instead of openly burning it, can help achieve the government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture. He acknowledged that these efforts will contribute to the development of Vietnam’s proposed initiative on “Sustainable Development of One Million Hectares of Specialized High Quality and Low Carbon Rice Production Areas under the Green Growth Agenda in the Mekong Delta Region up to 2030”.

To promote the scaling of rice straw machinery, Vice Minister Nam encouraged the stakeholders “to tap farmers’ cooperatives for more effective and efficient investments and workforce distribution.” He shared that the government is supporting this initiative by providing financial incentives, including low-interest rate loans for cooperatives; fostering linkages and collaborations among farmers, the private sector, research institutes, academe, and financial institutions; and strengthening agriculture extension services.

In his special message, Dr. Cao Duc Phat, chair of the IRRI Board of Trustees, shared some of the climate change impacts experienced by the MRD region and emphasized the urgency of mitigation actions. He stressed that aside from providing solutions to increase farmers’ income and achieve sustainable growth, equal attention should be also given to promoting climate resilience and climate change mitigation.

Dr. Phat acknowledged that the field demonstration will provide farmers and enterprises an opportunity to identify scalable solutions to reduce open burning and incorporation of rice straw in flooded fields, which are the main sources of GHG emissions in the rice sector.

This work is part of the GIZ-funded Promoting rice straw innovations project, the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund-supported Rice straw-based circular Economy (RiceEco) project, and the CGIAR Initiative on Asian Mega-Deltas.